There are more than 6 million residents living in the State of Georgia, of which approximately 3.9 percent receive Social Security Disability benefits. This year alone, thousands more will apply for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. When applying to disability benefits in GA, the applicant must meet the SSA's guidelines for disability, income and work credits.
Unfortunately, approximately 60 percent of Georgia Social Security Disability claims are denied by the Social Security Administration. The applicants who are denied must then file a Request for Reconsideration if they hope to overturn the SSA's decision to deny their disability payments. To make matters worse, nearly 80 percent of these reconsideration requests will also be denied.
While the average disability benefit of $1,054.70 received each month by Georgia Social Security Disability recipients can help offset the financial stress causes by long-term and permanent disabilities, the fact of the matter is that the majority of disability applicants must stand before an Administrative Law Judge at a disability hearing before they are ever awarded the benefits they are rightfully entitled to. In Georgia, disability applicants must wait anywhere from 406 to 538 days to obtain a disability hearing. Once the hearing date has passed, these applicants must wait another 45 to 90 days to receive a decision from the Administrative Law Judge notifying them as to whether or not the case was decided in their favor.
The agency in charge of managing the hearings for disability applicants is the SSA's Office of Disability and Adjudication Review (ODAR). There are a number of ODAR offices located in Georgia and the one that handles your claim will depend on the area of the state that you live in. The area that you live in also determines how long you must wait before obtaining a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. The cities and towns in which the ODAR offices for Georgia residents are located are as follows:
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Atlanta (North), Georgia
- Chattanooga, Tennessee
- Covington, Georgia
- Macon, Georgia
- Savannah, Georgia
- Tallahassee, Florida
The ODAR office located in Atlanta is responsible for scheduling the disability hearings for the Atlanta Downtown, Atlanta West, Carrollton, Columbus, La Grange, Marietta, Newnan and Southlake-Morrow Social Security field offices. It takes this office an average of 450 days to schedule a hearing for Georgia Social Security Disability applicants.
The North Atlanta ODAR office is responsible for processing disability hearings for the Gainesville, Gwinnett, Rome, Toccoa and Winder Social Security field offices. It takes this office an average of 406 days to schedule a disability hearing.
The Chattanooga ODAR office located in the State of Tennessee is responsible for scheduling disability hearings for the Social Security field office located in Dalton, Georgia. It takes this office an average of ten months to schedule a disability hearing.
The Covington ODAR office services the Atlanta Southeast, Athens, Augusta, Covington and Griffin Social Security field offices. The average processing time for this office is nine months.
The Macon ODAR office services the Albany, Cordele, Macon, Milledgeville, Moultrie and Warner Robins Social Security field offices. The average processing time for this office is 440 days.
The Savannah ODAR office serves the Brunswick, Dublin, Savannah, Statesboro, Swainsboro, Valdosta, Vidalia and Waycross Social Security field offices. The average processing time for this office is 538 days.
The Tallahassee ODAR office in the State of Florida is responsible for scheduling disability hearings for the Thomasville, Georgia Social Security field office. It takes this office an average of eleven months to schedule a disability hearing for Georgia Social Security Disability applicants.
Applying For Disability Benefits in Georgia
Disability benefits are determined by the federal agency, the Social Security Administration (SSA), but in Georgia, applications for disability benefits are handled by the state’s Disability Adjudication Services (DAS). Applications are initially filed with the SSA in person, online or by phone. Applications are then sent to the DAS, which is fully federally funded state agency.
The DAS appoints an adjudicator and state medical consultant to review all applications and supporting evidence using guidelines and disability criteria outlined by the SSA. Applications that are denied may be followed up by an appeal using the DAS appeal process.
Information that must be supplied with all disability benefit applications if you apply for a disability benefit in Georgia includes:
- release of any relevant records to be used in making a disability decision;
- a description of the disability for which you are applying for a benefit;
- information about medical treatment received to treat your disabling condition
- information about your education and past work experience;
- information about your medications.
If you apply for a disability benefit in Georgia, note that disability benefit applications are processed either through the social security disability insurance pathway or the supplemental security income (SSI) pathway. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available for those who have paid sufficient social security taxes over their period of employment.
Benefits are not dependent on income or assets but on the number of work credits acquired through employment. SSI is managed through the Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) and is available for applicants who have reduced income or assets. Applications are dependent on an asset and income test.
Hiring a Georgia Social Security Disability Attorney
Most Georgia Social Security Disability applicants will wait more than a year before obtaining a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Many applicants do not want to wait a year or more before receiving disability benefits and these individuals often wonder if there is any way to avoid having to endure the lengthy disability appeal process. The only way for a Georgia Social Security Disability applicant to avoid a disability hearing is to be approved for benefits during the initial stage of the disability claim process. Fortunately, retaining the services of a qualified Georgia Social Security Disability lawyer may increase your chances of receiving an approval of your initial disability application.
When you work with a qualified Georgia Social Security Disability attorney, your lawyer will help you through the initial application process by assisting you in obtaining the medical evidence that will be needed to support your disability claim. They will also help you prepare your application so that it may be presented properly to the Social Security Administration. This will increase your chances of obtaining an approval at the initial stage of the claim process and will help you avoid the hassles of the disability appeal process. If, for some reason, your application for disability benefits is denied by the Social Security Administration, your Georgia Social Security Disability attorney can move forward to represent you during the disability appeal process.
If your application for disability benefits is denied, you should contact a Georgia Social Security Disability attorney as soon as possible if you are not already working with one. Statistics show that applicants who are represented by a qualified attorney during the disability appeal process are more likely to be awarded benefits than applicants who choose to represent themselves.
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